Grim_Noir Enrolls With My Hero Academia

MHA Volume 1

Title: My Hero Academia Volumes 1

Story and Art: Kohei Horikoshi

Editor: Mike Montesa

Touch-Up Art & Lettering: John Hunt

Translation & English Adaptation: Caleb Cook

Publisher: SHUEISHA Inc

Licensed by: VIZ Media, LLC

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

My Hero Academia isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. This manga isn’t saying anything new. Its message won’t change the world, nor will anything about it revolutionize the comics industry. Yet 10-year-old Grim would have eaten up this title with a large spoon and asked for seconds.

The universe of My Hero Academia basically shows that Scarlet Witch’s idea was only off by one word: Think “More mutants,” rather than “No more mutants.” Within two generations, the world has exploded from first reported human mutations to 80% of the population displaying some sort of mutation (which they call “Quirks.”) Most Quirks are minor and can barely help with housework. However, the best of the best possess a talent that can make them valuable as government sanctioned and salaried crimefighters. Those selected at a high-school level for more intensive training of their Quirks are sent to Yuei High School (often abbreviated as “U.A. High”).

Izuku training

Sadly for him, the main “hero” of this book, Izuku Midoriya, is part of the 20% born Quirk-less. No amount of physical and mental training will ever make him equal to villains who can be half shark or can grow to ten stories tall or are a demonic ninja. Think of Izuku as a pre-spider-bite Peter Parker. He even has his own Flash Thompson-esque bully, Katsuki. Katsuki has always had it easy with his explosive Quirk and is considered to be on the fast track to U.A. High. For some reason, Katsuki resents Izuku for even dreaming of becoming a hero.

Then, one fateful day (as often happens in these types of stories), Izuku crosses paths twice with their world’s Superman, named All Might. After a bad first impression on both sides, an act of selfless heroism by Izuku convinces All Might to reveal a deep secret to Izuku. All Might’s power is transferrable and shareable. He has been searching for an heir for his power for five years, ever since a devastating injury rendered All Might unable to maintain his Quirk for more than three hours at a time. Like the punier Steve Rogers, Izuku’s good deed convinces All Might that this Quirk-less child is a more worthy hero than any of the Quirks he has interviewed previously. So begins Izuku’s path to U.A. High and his future as a hero.

Ochako

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” you say. “A Legion of Super-Heroes world…with a Superman…a Peter Parker type…yokai-style monsters and vilains…and a sorta Jean Grey’s School for Mutants…? This sounds like something from the Axe Cop creative team!”

Well, in the right light, yeah…

However, My Hero Academia has three things going for it. First, writer/artist/creator Kohei Horikoshi understands how goofy the mash-up he has created is. He imbues his storytelling with a lot of very Tick-like flourishes that allow the reader to just relax and enjoy the ride. (As an example, at one point in the story, a 67-foot tall heroine is thwarted when a suspect runs down a tight back alley between two buildings. Even that heroine’s name, Mt. Lady, is definitely a joke.) Also, be sure to read the character creation notes between chapters, they’re all a hoot.

Mt Lady

Secondly, Mr. Horikoshi is a pretty damn good artist. From the optimism in Izuku’s eyes to the Akira-inspired explosions, everything is note-perfect and in service to the story at hand.

Third, and in some ways the most important point in this discussion, My Hero Academia is a Shonen Jump title. As a boys’ action title, it observes several of the genre’s conventions, including heroic determination, “fighting spirit,” ferocious loyalty to friends and a need to protect family, friends and innocents. These ideals have become muted and, perhaps, considered antiquated in American comics, but were always vital in heroic folklore and mythology. It is refreshing to see a creator bring these ideals back to superhero comics with a sorely missed brio and audacity.

My Hero Academia isn’t great. It won’t be discussed in the same breath with The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and The Invisibles. But, it is a GOOD comic. The story is fast & funny, the artwork is energized, and (in a fantastical way) it speaks to problems kids face. It is only on its fifth collected volume in Japan and VIZ is releasing the English versions quarterly, which is a very reasonable collecting schedule. The manga has received the “motion comic” treatment in Japan and rumors of an anime have been swirling for a little while now. If you have a tween in your household, or in your heart, now is the time to get on board this title.

Quirks-In-Training

 

grim_noir_3_t

* GRIM_NOIR has also been enjoying VIZ Media’s releases of Magi, Ultraman and Tokyo Ghoul. He is convinced that the internet is a figment of his imagination. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or Friend on Good Reads or Facebook to end his self-delusions.

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6 Comments to “Grim_Noir Enrolls With My Hero Academia

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  1. JD (Host) says:

    I’m not a tween, but this sounds RAD. I like everything about this book, before even reading it. I feel like sometimes I need a break from the irony and the negativity of American comics, so I’m glad to see the innocence, enthusiasm and heroic drive remain intact overseas.

    How do you come across these titles? Amazon? Do you read them online?

  2. JD (Host) says:

    ps. out of all the different “names” for super-heroes, metas, etc…I think I like Quirks the best.

  3. Grim_Noir says:

    Now, I like a grim’n’gritty title as much as the next guy, JD, but this title is a BLAST. It take a few chapters to really hit its stride, but I think you would enjoy it.

  4. Grim_Noir says:

    I would love to reel off all the otaku connections and news sources I’ve used in the past (just to impress you, JD), but the fact is VIZ literally handed this one out: Every Spring/Summer Con season, VIZ puts together a sampler of their latest aquisitions with a sample chapter for each. When I picked up this year’s sampler at Otakon, I was immediately hooked and went on Viz’s site to see the release schedule. After I read the first collection, I knew this was something that more American comic book fans needed to check out :)

  5. Grim_Noir says:

    Looks like that “My Hero Academia” anime I predicted is coming sooner rather than later… http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2015-10-27/my-hero-academia-superhero-manga-tv-anime-briefly-listed/.94682

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